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Drone with camera in flight

News The good, the bad and the retro

9 January 2015 Daniel Curtis

Today marks the end of the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show.

A drone in flight.
Drones featured heavily at CES 2015.

The Las Vegas-based, international technology event claims to host 150,000 attendees, who flock to the three separate venues to see products and innovations from over 3,600 exhibitors.

And it is not just small start-ups that show off their wares, but a number of high-profile giants of technology world – such as AOL, Bosch and Sony – also joined them.

With everything from new televisions to wearable items on show, it can be difficult to know what to look at. But there were some exciting advancements in the photography world.

Unmanned aerial vehicles
Drones just will not go away (and not in the annoying, buzzing around your head sense). They dominated this year’s show, with every imaginable design and function covered.

Even the Nixie made an appearance, shown off by Intel boss Brian Krzanich during his keynote speech.

Pembrokeshire-based Torquing Group set a fundraising goal of £125,000 for their Kickstarter drone, Zano. Just yesterday, when the campaign came to an end, they had reached over £2.3 million.

What is special about the Zano? It is (probably) the first drone to be aimed at a consumer market, rather than commercial use or for photographers with a big budget. It can either be controlled by a mobile application or ‘lock onto’ the user, following them remotely whether they go – very clever!

Another British-based company Extreme Fliers’ Micro Drone 3.0 is agile and light, but it can also self-right (or rather, correct its position) whilst in the air. No more tricky launches, then; just throw it in the air and let it fly.

And if you are looking for speed, check out the Ghost – the “drone for everyone” – from California and Chinese start-up EHang. It can reach speeds of up to 49mph but is also compatible with GoPro products. Skies away!

Utilising current technology
To some, physical add-ons for smartphones might seem like an unneeded expense for what is supposedly an all-in-one device. But for others – and the people inventing them – they are a way of enhancing a user’s experience.

Take the Flir Thermal Camera (iPhone-only compatible) as a prime example. The latest model slots onto the top of any iPhone 5 or 5s and transforms the phone into a thermal imaging camera – whether front-facing or the traditional camera on the back. Certainly a step up from dodgy filters on mobile apps!

Perhaps better known for its Polaroid Cube in recent years, the American camera and eyewear company produced instant film cameras right up until February 2008, when they finally ceased production of analogy products.

But retro-lovers rejoice because instant prints are back. Proving that reinventing the old can be just as exciting as brand new concepts, the ability to have physical photos on the go might just make a comeback.

It does remain to be seen whether it takes off; it might take some convincing for youngsters to switch from accessible and changeable digital files to one-off pieces of zink paper.

But one thing we can all be certain of is photography will become more accessible for the everyday consumer. For bigger, commercial projects it is always best to seek out professional companies.

But for basic photography, why not get out there and have a go yourself? There is a camera, application or gadget for everyone.

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